5 (Lesser known) Facts About Learning Differences

young girls sat crossed leg on desk reading book


5 Facts About Learning Differences

I’ve learnt so much since my youngest’s diagnosis with Dyslexia nearly three years ago.  So picking just 5 facts about learning differences was going to be hard.  Actually, if it wasn’t for that diagnosis then I would never have requested screening for my older two.  Nor would I have had the knowledge or confidence to refer F for his ADHD diagnosis.

What if we hadn’t discovered them, especially the ADHD; school certainly weren’t forthcoming, despite what were obvious symptoms.  The diagnosis has made a HUGE difference to everyday life at school and at home, but it could have been so different.

As a society, we are now very much more aware and knowledgeable about SpLDs (Specific Learning Differences) and Learning Support.  There are some very well known facts (and myths) readily available to help individuals, families and employers.  So I thought I’d share 5 facts about learning differences that aren’t so well known…

Dyslexia & Coloured Overlays 

There is no high-quality evidence to support that colour overlays help Dyslexic individuals read.  It has been a long-held belief (and still is according to a quick Google search) that overlays can help Dyslexic children to read.  When in actuality the truth is that coloured overlays help those with visual stress (also known as Meares‐Irlen syndrome) to read.  Around 35-40% of people with dyslexia are estimated to experience visual stress.  This, therefore, explains why some researchers led to the conclusion that visual stress may be a cause of dyslexia.  However, the truth is, Dyslexia is a neurological condition that affects the way information is processed, stored and retrieved.

ADHD Diagnosis & Symptoms

I couldn’t believe it when I read that ADHD was not formally recognised as a valid condition in the UK till the year 2000. That for me was pretty shocking.  I think for me, the difference an ADHD diagnosis makes to the support, knowledge and understanding an individual gets, is truly life-changing.

Furthermore, girls have been hugely underdiagnosed, severely impacting their learning and development.  It is now known that girls are more likely to present with ‘inattentive’ type ADHD.  Whilst boys present mostly with hyperactive-impulsive type or a combination of both.  The hyperactive and impulsive behaviour is much easier to spot (or not ignore???).  In fact, until the 1990s scientists believed ADHD affected only one female for every nine males. Today, the ratio is now one woman for every two men!

Disability, Difficulty, Difference…

There is a difference between a Learning Disability and a Learning Difficulty, although quite often they are confused with each other.

A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities.

A learning difficulty does not affect general intellect and includes difficulties such as Dyslexia, DCD, ADHD etc.  Although ADHD and ASC (Autism Spectrum Condition) are actually mental health conditions, as they affect an individual’s ability to learn they come under the umbrella of SpLDs.

Personally, I prefer the word difference to difficulty.  Difficulty to me insinuates individuals have difficulty learning; whereas actually, it’s more about the brain having a different way of learning than has been ‘standard’ practice for so long in education now…

Dyslexia / Word Blindness

The earliest case of dyslexia was reported in the British Medical Journal in 1896 – a Dr W. Pringle Morgan in Sussex, England described in his notes a bright and intelligent boy called Percy, who was ‘quick at games’ and was ‘in no way inferior’ to his classmates, but who simply couldn’t learn to read with any fluency.

Originally problems with literacy were called word blindness.  The term dyslexia came in 1887, from the works of ophthalmologist, Rudolf Berlin.

Learning Differences and Mental Health

Up to 40% of individuals with a learning disability have mental health issues.  Individuals with SpLDs specifically tend to suffer from anxiety, depression, stress, low self-esteem and reduced confidence.  This can be due to an individual getting a late diagnosis, so struggling to cope. Bullying from peers less understanding of their abilities. Or even the day to day mental and emotional strain, from dealing with one or more learning differences.

The more I read the more I find out and it really is interesting.  The one thing I have come away with is none of us knows all the answers, but it is up to us to learn as much as we can.

SpLDs are now known to be a ‘Society model’.  This means that rather than it being up to individuals with a learning difference having to change and adapt to the world around them.  Moreover, it is up to society to change and adapt to ever-changing needs of everyone around us.  All human beings are equal and all our differences and abilities should be celebrated, rather than seen as limiting or disabling.

Fay x

More like this…

If you like this post then you may like similar posts:

SEN & Learning Support – How Felicity Finds

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